Sena, BJP lock horns over Modi rallies

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Mumbai, Oct 7: BJP and Shiv Sena on Tuesday locked horns over Prime Minister Narendra Modi's campaign blitzkrieg for Maharashtra assembly poll, with Sena dubbing it as a "drain" on the state's coffers, prompting a quick riposte from its former ally which said it reflected "Modi phobia".

"If Modi has mass appeal as projected by BJP, instead of conducting 25-30 rallies in different parts of Maharashtra, he would have sat in Delhi and appealed for votes and people would have definitely listened to him," Sena said in an editorial in party mouthpiece 'Saamana'.

"It does not suit a Prime Minister to wander from village to village asking for votes...The dignity of the PM's chair should be upheld," the editorial said. Sena also said the burden of the visits was a "drain" on the state exchequer.

"Whenever a Prime Minister is invited to hold rallies, many things need to be taken care of. His security and other arrangements need money, the burden of which finally falls on the shoulders of the state treasury. When Sonia Gandhi and Manmohan Singh used the state machinery previously, they were severely criticised," it said.

Shiv Sena's criticism of Modi drew a quick response from BJP which said its former pro-Hindutva ally was targeting the Prime Minister as it was suffering from "Modi phobia".

"We had thought political parties will be laying down their agenda for the future of Maharashtra and will be discussing water, electricity, development and toll problem the state is facing.

"But they (Shiv Sena) have left all that aside and are concentrating on targeting Modi. This is because they are suffering from Modi phobia," Information and Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadekar said.

He said questioning the need for Modi to hold rallies in the state was like questioning the need for Sachin Tendulkar to make runs on the field.

"They (Shiv Sena) ask us why does Modi need to hold so many rallies in the state. It is like questioning the need for Sachin Tendulkar to make runs on field. If Modiji is our campaigner, he will hold as many rallies as he wants. How is it anybody's concern?" he asked.

BJP's general secretary incharge of Maharashtra Rajiv Pratap Rudy said Sena had already "lost the battle" ahead of the October assembly 15 poll.

"They (Sena) have lost track and are talking only about BJP. If they are contesting to win the elections, they should be contesting against Congress and NCP. But if they are talking about BJP, it possibly shows that they have lost the battle," he told PTI.

"It is amusing that Sena is not fighting the actual enemies of the state. And they say we have betrayed them. How does it matter ? You were claiming to be a larger partner and more powewrful. Why should you complain?" he said.


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